Lake Ōkāreka earned its name (‘the lake of sweet food’) when, many years ago, Māori grew sweet potato or kumara around the outside of the lake. Today, it’s a hive of activity year-round - Ōkāreka is great for swimming, water-skiing, barbecues, boating and fishing.
Into walking instead? There’s a great hike, which starts at Acacia Road and follows the lake edge to the Ōkāreka Outlet, boasting beautiful views of farmland, beach, lake and wildlife.
Only 15 minutes’ drive from Rotorua and situated in the picturesque setting of native forest, Ōkāreka’s township has a quietness and charm to it. Because it’s off the beaten track, the lake remains hidden away to large groups of tourists.
Lake Ōkāreka has reasonably clear, clean water, but over time it’s been affected by land use in the catchment, with nutrients introduced to the lake from surrounding farmland and residential septic tanks.
The Lake Ōkāreka Action Plan has seen a few great improvements, and the lake now has stable water quality, but it’s still slightly above target. More land use change in the catchment is currently being negotiated to further improve water quality.